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First Amendment rights are still important

Today marks the beginning of National Newspaper Week.

Sponsored by the Newspaper Association Managers, it’s a week that has been set aside for the past 79 years to recognize the service of newspapers and their employees.

This year’s theme is “Think F1rst: Know your five freedoms,” and it stands as a timely reminder, given the ever increasing attacks on the individual rights we all enjoy as Americans, and the men and women whose responsibility it is to stand guard over them.

All are contained in the First Amendment to the Constitution:

• The right to freely practice whatever religion we choose.

• The right to exercise freedom of speech.

• The right to a free press, one that is not subject to government control.

• The right to peaceably assemble for any reason, including to hold a protest.

• The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Newspapers defend those freedoms on a daily basis. It’s a job that has never been easy, and it’s one that has become even more difficult of late, thanks to daily attacks from all sides, with claims of “fake news” and “lies” thrown around daily at all levels of government

The Herald-Star is known in the business as a community newspaper. On its pages each day you will find news that’s important to you –a mission we have been fulfilling daily since June 7, 1806. We’ve reported countless stories in that time, stories that offered new insights into your friends and neighbors, stories that have made readers think and stories that have helped hold local and regional government officials accountable.

Without that steady flow of unbiased information, area residents would find it difficult to make good decisions about the things that affect their day-to-day lives and to formulate opinions of their own. Differing opinions are important — they encourage conversation and thought, and are critical to making our democracy work. We offer daily opinion pieces, local editorials and syndicated columnists, and we invite readers to share their opinions each week by writing letters to the editor or through guest columns.

Standing guard over our freedoms, holding government and elected officials responsible and serving as an advocate for members of the public on numerous levels — that’s a lot to ask of our newspapers.

It’s a challenge we willingly take on because those basic rights outlined in the First Amendment must be protected.

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